the excitement of returning to conventions

I love cons, always have. I stopped going mainly because of my hearing loss.

Cons are a problem for me because I get disoriented in crowds--I have difficulty pinpointing the direction of certain sounds and other noises simply get lost in the shuffle. Hearing aids are just that--aids--and they often don't help me hear or understand better. What's worse is that it's an invisible disability, so people usually don't realize I'm having communication issues due to a hearing loss. The general assumptions are that I am either a) stupid or b) that I understood what you said when, in fact, I did not, then we are back to a) stupid.

I'm never exactly sure how to handle it. When I tell people that I'm deaf, they always look startled, then they start looking around as if there is some way to escape. Sometimes they take a step back like it's catching. The look I hate is the utter panic exhibited when I ask if assistive listening devices are available.

For the record, I've organized large weekend events in the past. I know the stress involved, and trust me, I'm not trying to scamble your day. Don't panic. If you have something, wonderful. If you don't, it's really okay. I understand and will work around it.

I've been called a snob because people who didn't know I have a hearing problem have walked up behind me and said hello. I never heard them, so I didn't acknowledge them. I always hate that, because I do enjoy talking to people, and I don't snub anyone. That's where my daughter and husband often help me.

They call themselves my designated "hearing people." I love them for that. Some people have suggested I get a hearing dog, and when they make one that speaks English, I'm going for it. Otherwise, I'm afraid a hearing dog won't help me. I've learned to adjust myself to my circumstances.

I always try to sit close to the front of the room so I can easily lip-read the panelists and any of the participants who may have questions. I try to get to the con's location early so I can familiarize myself with my surroundings. 

My favorite thing to do is sit quietly in the lobby and watch people. Since I can't hear their words, I can watch their body language. It's like watching TV with the sound muted, only I get to make up my own stories about the people around me. Most folks won't even know I'm there this year, and that's okay, because it's not about me.

It's about the fans. It's an opportunity for me to learn from people more experienced than myself. It's about just having some fun for a weekend.

I'm looking forward to it.